Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact

by Rich Morris Rating:6 Release Date:2011-05-09

Now on album number five, and settled into new home 4AD, New Yorkers Gang Gang Dance have taken a step back from the more commercial sounds of previous release, Saint Dymphna. Eye Contact begins with a voice announcing "I want to hear everything... It's everything time", before 11-minute opening track 'Glass Jar' wafts in a on a bed of undulating synths like a refugee from a 90s Orb album. As a statement of intent, it's pretty arresting, but the 'everything manifesto' only really lasts for this track. GGD are at their best when purely instrumental, leaving the most basic song constructs behind in favour of soundscapes and esoteric textures as proven by 'Glass Jar' and the brief but perfectly formed penultimate instrumental '∞∞'.

'Glass Jar' is mostly excellent. A gently euphoric tune which takes its sweet time unfolding, when it finally breaks into something more conventional and vocalist Liz Bougatsos comes in it loses that special, elemental feeling and sounds more like the work of particularly ambitious cruise ship band. This comedown is symptomatic of the album as a whole. One big problem is how much this band is obviously in thrall to The Knife. Bougatsos sounds like Karin Andersson doing an over-the-top impression of Björk. Her 'away with the fairies' singing, every vowel tortured past the point of intelligibility, very quickly becomes wearing. The nadir comes on 'MindKilla', where her voice is as irritating as that misspelling of 'killer'.

Elsewhere, it becomes hard to take GGD seriously. 'Thru and Thru' progresses from a silly, dinky Arabian motif and Bougatsos' warbling to pounding drums and synth stabs which, once again, recall The Knife. It's almost as if they think they're the only people in the world to have discovered the Swedish duo. On the plus side, the guitar playing is often excellent, especially on 'Glass Jar' and 'Chinese High', and GGD integrate organic and electronic sounds with far more skill than many of their contemporaries. It's just a shame that Bougatsos' voice hovers over the band's good efforts, being tiresomely, self-consciously kooky. 'Romance Layers' offers some relief; sung by Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor, it's a seductive, elusive neo-soul delight and is the best thing here.

One senses a great album has got lost somewhere in the making of Eye Contact, and what we're presented with is overly derivertive and protests a little too much in the weirdness stakes. A few moments aside, GGD haven't let go nearly enough. Then again, this could still be a pretty great alt-pop record if it wasn't for the vocals. Oh well.

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